Norris Number 17 Improved Gunmetal Smoothing Plane

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Norris No. 17 Improved Gunmetal Smoothing Plane
Norris No. 17 Improved Gunmetal Smoothing Plane
as illustrated in the 1914 Norris Catalogue

No. 17. Steel faced, gunmetal lever, fitted with rosewood.
With closed handle, 2/- extra (1914).

Extra cutters to fit above planes
2⅛ cutters, 1/8 2¼ cutters, 1/10
Fitted with rosewood and a gunmetal lever.
Heavier than the steel plane of similar pattern.

Cutter Width 2"     2⅛" 2¼"
Price (1908 Price List) 23/6 24/- 24/6
Price (1914 Catalogue) 24/- 24/6
Price (1928 Catalogue) 54/- 55/-

NOTES: The handplanes shown in the Norris 1914 catalogue came with enclosed toes, in which the front infill was encased at the front by the gunmetal casting. Some time before the 1928 catalogue it was decided that the model would come with an open toe instead. The 1914 catalogue also lists the plane with an open-style handle, though a closed handled version could be obtained from the manufacturer for an additional 2/- extra (an extra 1/6 in the 1908 price list). By the 1928 catalogue, however, only the closed handle version was offered. All variations (open & closed toe and open & closed handle) are shown in the images below.

Both the No. 17 and the No. A17 came with steel soles which were sweated, or silver soldered, on to the gunmetal casting. This made the plane sole more durable, as the steel is harder than gunmetal.

The No. 17 series were, in all likelihood, considered a 'showpiece' premium model. Rather than hide the construction in the same way as a typical dovetailed plane would be, the contrasting colours of gunmetal, steel (as used for the rivets) and rosewood would have made for an impressive shop display to say the least. As a smoothing plane this model sold for more than an equivalent dovetailed plane. This extra cost is also reflected in the second-hand market, where a No. 17 in good condition is usually considerably more than a typical No. 2 or No. 5. It was also around one and a half times heavier than an all steel plane of the same size - something to keep in mind if you intend using one for your cabinetry work.